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Extraído de Enciclopedia Británica
Macropedia, Vol. 3
p. 40-41


"Borges, Jorge Luis.

Since 1961, when he and Samuel Beckett shared the prestigious international award the Formentor Prize, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges has seen his tales and poems increasingly acclaimed as classics of 20th-century world literature. Prior to that time, Borges was little known, in his native Buenos Aires, except to other writers, many of whom regarded him merely as a craftsman of ingenious techniques and tricks. Now, the nightmare world of his "fiction", which are often compared to the stories of Franz Kafka, are praised for concentrating common language into its most enduring form. Trough his work more than that of any other contemporary, Latin-American literature emerges from the academic realm into that of generally educated readers throughout the Western world.

Borges was born on August 24, 1899, in Buenos Aires and was raised in the shabby suburb of Palermo, the setting of some of his works. His family, which had been notable in Argentine history, included British ancestry, and he learned English before Spanish. The first books he read -from the library of his father, a man of wide-ranging intellect who taught at an English school- included Huckleberry Finn, the novels of H. G. Wells, The Thousand and One Nights, and Don Quixote, all in English. Under the constant stimulus and example of his father, the young Borges from his earliest years realized that he was destined for a literary career.

In 1914, on the eve of World War I, Borges was taken by his family to Geneva, Switzerland, where he learned French and German and received his B. A. from the Collège de Genève. Leaving there in 1919, the family spent a year in Majorca and a year in Spain, where Borges joined the young writers of the Ultraist movement, a group that rebelled against that it considered the decadence of the established writers of the "generation of '98."

Returning to Buenos Aires in 1921, Borges rediscovered his native city and began to sing of its beauty in poems that imaginatively reconstructed its past and present. His first published book was a volume of poems, Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923). He is also credited with establishing the Ultraist movement in South America, though he later repudiated it. This period of his career, which included the authorship of several volumes of essays and poems and the founding of three literary journals, ended with a biography, Evaristo Carriego (1930).

During his next phase, Borges gradually overcame his shyness in creating pure fiction. At first he preferred to retell the lives of more or less infamous men, as in the sketches of his Historia universal de la infamia. To earn his living, in 1938 he took a major post at a Buenos Aires library named for one of his ancestors. He remained there for nine unhappy years.

In 1938, the year his father died, Borges suffered a severe head wound, and subsequent blood poisoning, which left him near dead, bereft of speech, and fearing for his sanity. This experience appears to have freed in him the deepest forces of creation. In the next eight years he produced his best fantastic stories, those later collected in the series of Ficciones and the volume titled The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933-69. During this time, he and another writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares, jointly wrote detective stories under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq, (com-bining ancestral names of the two writers' families), which were published in 1942 as Seis problemas para don Isidro Parodi ("Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi"). The works of this period revealed for the first time Borges's entire dreamworld, an ironical or paradoxical version of the real one, with its own language and systems of symbols.

When the dictatorship of Juan Perón came to power in 1946, Borges was dismissed from his library position for having expressed support of the Allies in World War II. With the help of friends, he earned his way by lecturing, editing, and writing. A 1952 collection of essays, Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952 revealed him at his analytical best.

When Perón was deposed in 1955, Borges became director of the national library, an honorific position, and also professor of English and American literature at the University of Buenos Aires.

By this time, Borges suffered from total blindness, a hereditary affliction that had also attacked his father and had progressively diminished his own eyesight from the 1920s onward. It had forced him to abandon the writing of long texts and to begin dictating to his mother or to secretaries or friends.

The works that date from this late period, such as Dreamtigers and The Book of Imaginary Beings, almost erase the distinctions between the genres of prose and poetry. A later collection of stories, El informe de Brodie (1970; "Doctor Brodie's Report"), comprises tales of revenge, murder, and horror-allegories combining the simplicity of a folk storyteller with the complex vision of a man who has explored the labyrinths of his own being to its core.


POEMS: Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923); Luna de enfrente (1925); Cuaderno San Martin (1929); Poemas (1943); Poemas 1923-1953 (1954); Poemas (1958); Obra poética, 1923-1966 (1966; vol. 6 of Borges' Obras completas).

PROSE (ESSAYS): Inquisiciones (1925), miscellaneous essays; El tamaño de mi esperanza (1926), collected essays; El idioma de los argentinos (1928), essays, one of which was revised and included in El lenguaje de Buenos Aires (1963); Discusión (1932); Historia de la eternidad (1936); Aspectos de la literatura gauchesca (1951); El "Martin Fierro" (1953), Otras Inquisiciones (1937-1952) (1952; Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952, 1964); Crónicas de Bustos Domecq (1967), on aesthetics. (SHORT STORIES AND PARABLES): Historia uiversal de la infamia (1935), translations, adaptations, original stories, and parables; El iardín de senderos que se bifurcan (1942), collected stories; Ficciones 1935-1944 (1944; several later series, 6th enl. ed., 1966), stories; El Aleph (1949; The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933-69, ed. and trans. by Norman Thomas di Giovanni in collaboration with the author, 1970), collected stories; La muerte y la brújula (1951), collected stories; El hacedor (1960; Dreamtigers, 1964), collected stories, parables, and poems; El libro de los seres imaginarios (1967; The Book of Imaginary Beings, written by Borges with Margarita Guerrero, rev. and trans. by Norman Thomas di Giovanni in collaboration with the author, 1969). (BIOGRAPHY): Evaristo Carriego (1930). (ANTHOLOGIES): Chosen by Borges from his own published and unpublished writings Antologia personal (1961), stories, essays, and poems; trans. in A Personal Anthology, ed. by A. Kerrigan (1967). Other Eng. trans. in Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings of J. L. Borges, ed. and trans. by D.A. Yates and J.E. Irby (1962; rev, ed. 1970); Fictions, selections from the series of Ficciones, ed. and trans. by A. Kerrigan (1968).

BIBLIOGRAPHY. ANA MARIA BARRENECHEA, La expresión de la irrealidad en la obra de Jorge Luis Borges (1957); Eng. (trans., Borges, the Labyrinth Maker, 1965), the best critical study, with bibliography; RONALD CHRIST, The Narrow Act: Borges' Art of Allusion (1969), a very perceptive analysis of one of Borges' key methods of creation; MARTIN S. STABB, Jorge Luis Borges (1970), a superficial over-all presentation; EMIR RODRIGUEZ MONEGAL, Borgès par lui-même (1970), a critical introduction, with iconography."





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